Abortion debates carry on at Coffman

Brady Averill

The air Friday on the steps of Coffman Union was filled with tension as groups clashed views over the deeply dividing abortion issue.

Silent No More Minnesota, an abortion opponents group, organized speakers to share abortion stories and how the decisions impacted their lives. The University Pro-Life Coalition brought the event to campus.

Angela Beljeski spoke to approximately 40 people, describing her decision to have an abortion 20 years ago.

“You can never go back and undo the decision,” she said.

As several women and one man told gatherers about their experiences, abortion rights supporters held signs declaring the right to choose.

While abortion opponents stood for a moment of silence, vocal abortion rights supporters interrupted the group.

In one exchange, one woman pushed University law student Hannah Stein and tore her sign that read, “I don’t regret my abortion.”

Silent No More Minnesota President Ann Marie Cosgrove said young women ages 18 to 24 are the most likely group to have abortions.

Anne Billion, president of the University Pro-Life Coalition, said the main goal of the event was to preserve life.

The University was an ideal place for the event because it goes “to the heart of where most people are killing children,” she said.

Billion also said that when women have abortions early in life, some later regret the decision.

Cosgrove said she and others told their stories because they wanted everyone to know the truth about abortion and the pain it can cause.

Cosgrove said abortion is often seen to solve an immediate problem, “but in our cases, it created new ones.”

Abortion isn’t the only choice – women can put their children up for adoption, she said.

“We need to make (abortion) as unnecessary as possible,” Cosgrove said.

University Pro-Choice Coalition co-president Stacey Keenan said having an abortion is not an easy decision.

“No matter how hard the decision is, it’s still a woman’s decision, not the government’s,” she said.

Brian Walker, who spoke with his wife, Denise Walker, said he was too weak to stop his wife from having an abortion when they were students at Rutgers College.

They weren’t ready for children, he said, and abortion was a result of convenience. It was Denise Walker’s third abortion, she said.

At the time, she said, she dreamed about going to law school to become a lawyer. She said she achieved that dream on the “bloody backs of three of my own children.”

She said she wasn’t told the truth when she had her abortions.

“It’s not a blob of tissue, it’s a person,” she said.

Standing nearby, abortion rights advocate Stein wanted to give her own testimony.

When she had an abortion, she said, it was the right decision for her.

“I don’t like being represented by other people,” she said.

Although she said she respected others’ beliefs that abortion is taking a human life, she didn’t like how they forced it on other people.

“They don’t speak for us – we do,” she said.